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Northam announces five new historical highway markers for AAPI history

AAPI heritage month historical marker contest
AAPI heritage month historical marker contest(Governor Northam's Office)
Published: Aug. 3, 2021 at 10:19 AM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Five new state historical highway markers that highlight Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) history will be displayed across Virginia.

Governor Ralph Northam announced that the new markers Tuesday, noting that the markers were submitted by Virginia students through a contest in May which is AAPI Heritage Month.

“Throughout history, Asian American and Pacific Islander communities have made significant contributions to our Commonwealth and our country, but too often their stories remain untold,” said Governor Northam. “As we continue working to tell a more comprehensive and inclusive Virginia story, I am grateful for the efforts of Virginia students and educators in helping elevate the voices of prominent AAPI Virginians with these five new historical markers.”

The new markers will be going to various parts of the state and represent different sections of AAPI heritage, history and culture

Submitted by students from Cherry Run Elementary School in Virginia Beach and the English Second Language program in Chesterfield County a marker about “Filipinos in the U.S. Navy” will be added in the Hampton Roads area.

In Salem a marker about “Kim Kyusik” who graduated from Roanoke College in 1903 and was a leader for the Republic of Korea including being the foreign minister and vice president as well as a representative at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. Kyusik was captured and killed by North Korea after World War II. His marker was nominated by students at Cumberland Middle School.

Cumberland Middle School students also submitted “Arthur Azo Matsu” who will be featured in Williamsburg. Matsu graduated from William and Mary in 1927 and became the first Japanese-American football player in the National Football League as a quarterback.

“The Historical Marker Contest helped me learn more about Virginians who made a big impact, like Arthur Matso, the first Japanese-American to play in the NFL,” said Andrew Crenshaw, a rising 6th grader at Cumberland Middle School. “As I researched Arthur Matso, I learned how much he did for the sport of football and for Virginia. He played quarterback at William & Mary and coached football at several Virginia high schools, inspiring students like me to work hard and do their best.”

Outside of Charlottesville “W. W. Yen” will be featured for being the first international student to earn a bachelor’s from the University of Virginia in 1900 and for being a leader in China during the early 20th century. Yen was nominated by students at Hunter Woods Elementary Students.

The final highway marker will feature “Vietnamese Immigrants in Northern Virginia” in Falls Church. After the fall of the South Vietnamese government in the 1970s, a wave of Vietnamese immigrants settled in Northern Virginia creating a community a large shopping district in the 1980s.

The markers will be formally submitted in Sept. to the Boar of Historic Resources and are expected to be approved.

“The AAPI Historical Marker Contest provides students an opportunity to guide their own learning by researching local heroes and discovering untold stories,” said Secretary of Education Atif Qarni. “These students have suggested new markers that will make a tangible impact on the way we remember our shared history forever, and I hope the experience will empower them to make a positive impact for years to come.”

This announcement was celebrated virtually with Governor Northam and First Lady Pamela Northam as well as other leaders; watch the celebration here.

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